Find out what degarelix is, how you have it and other important information about having degarelix.
Degarelix is a hormone therapy drug and is also known by its brand name Firmagon.
Degarelix is a treatment for advanced hormone dependent prostate cancer. Hormone dependent means that that the cancer cells need a hormone in order to grow.
How degarelix works
Prostate cancer depends on testosterone to grow. Drugs that stop the testes making testosterone can slow or stop the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Degarelix works by blocking gonadatrophin releasing hormone receptors in the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland then stops producing luteinising hormone. The lutenising hormone is then not available to trigger the testes to make testosterone.
How you have degarelix
You have degarelix as an injection just under the skin (subcutaneously) into the fatty tissue of your tummy (abdomen).
Nurse: This is a short film showing you how to give an injection just under your skin. This is called a subcutaneous or sub cut injection. This does not replace what your doctors and nurses tell you, so always follow their advice.
Voiceover: Subcutaneous injections may be part of your cancer treatment. Or, you may need them to prevent side effects of treatment, such as blood clots after surgery. Or to help control cancer symptoms, such as pain or sickness.
Most injections come in prefilled syringes.
Nurse: So, today I am going to show you how to give a subcutaneous injection. I am going to start by giving it into a practice cushion and then you can have a go at giving one yourself. Before you start, you need to get your equipment together. What you are going to need is an alcohol wipe to clean your skin, some cotton wool, a prefilled syringe and a sharps bin. It is important that you wash your hands with soap and water and dry them thoroughly before you start. Check that you have got the correct drug and that it is in date.
You can give the injection into the back of your arm, your tummy, your thigh or the outer part of your bottom. It is important that you vary where you give the injection. So it may be that you give it one day in your tummy and the next in your thigh.
So you start by cleaning the skin with the alcohol wipe and allowing it to air dry. Then you take the cover off the needle and pinch the skin up and hold it a bit like a pen and in an upright position, in a quick dart like motion pop it straight down into the skin. Then you press the plunger right to the end, quickly pull the needle out, dab it with cotton wool, pop the needle into the sharps bin. And then you need to wash your hands again.
So here’s what you are going to need. If you start by checking the drug and the expiry date. And then with the alcohol wipe give your skin a clean. That’s it give it a few seconds for the air to dry it. Ok and then if you want to pick up the syringe and take the cover off the needle. Then pinch your skin up and at a ninety degree angle gently push the needle in...then press the plunger...and then quickly remove it... dab your skin with the cotton wool and put the syringe in the sharps bin.
Tests during treatment
You might have blood tests before starting treatment and regularly during your treatment. The tests check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.
Other medicines, foods and drink
Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.
This drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
This treatment might stop you being able to father a child.
Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. You may be able to store sperm before starting treatment.
More information about this treatment
For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.
You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.